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The Third Act Organ Recital

Most Mondays, after my yoga class, I drop in for tea and conversation with my older sister and her husband. We haven’t lived close enough for regular visits since she graduated from high school in 1965. A year ago this month, they moved from Virginia to Washington and live twenty minutes from me. I envy […]

Something Lost, Something Found

My mother died six years ago today, on the eve of Earth Day. She’s been gone a few weeks longer than the time I spent with her. In the interim, we’ve experienced a pandemic, a horrific presidency (and the terrifying threat of a repeat), a world and a country increasingly in chaos and crisis. And […]

Cleaning Out a Parent’s Home

After months of my two sisters and I photographing every item in my mother’s house of 38 years and doing round robins to divide up all the things, we are finally down to moving everything distributed out. Along the way there were so many questions I wish I had asked my mom: what something meant, […]

The Shadow & Light of Life’s Third Act

March 19, 2024, Spring Equinox Ready or not, it’s the first day of official spring. Maybe, though, like me, you like the quiet coziness of winter and are not quite ready to release it to extroverted spring. While others loudly moan about the fickle weather, I quietly embrace a March snow shower. And, I want […]

Death Cleaning

Like many of you, I read Marie Kondo’s book when it came out and did the “does it spark joy” test with my belongings. (After moving several times and, ultimately, living alone, my belongings were spare anyway, which made the task easier.) I was enjoying my “only what you need or love” home. Then I […]

Candy Cane Cookies

My family doesn’t have many food traditions I’ve hung onto; but candy cane cookies, made by my mother’s sister and mailed out each holiday season, is one I resurrected when I had children of my own. Now they make them with their children. And so it continues. Ingredients: 3/4 c. butter, softened 3/4 c. sugar […]

Cognitive Dysfunction or Emotional Dysfunction?

There is a difference between “emotional dysfunction” and “cognitive dysfunction.” For those caring for an old-old, it’s helpful to understand the difference. My mother suffered from emotional dysfunction. And though it hurt my ego, it’s a pattern I was familiar with, and it was not going to change—she was more of who she had always […]

When I Am An Old Woman

Daughter on Duty, January 2015 Mama—whose ENT told her this week she was close enough to 99 to call it that, since she will be the next time she comes to have her ears cleaned out—is fond of telling me what I will understand when I am her age. I will understand what it’s like […]

Potato Carrot Cabbage Soup

I had rarely cooked with cabbage before moving in with my mother, but she kept buying it and I kept looking for recipes to satisfy her soup passion. This one is super easy, which was my passion. Ingredients: 4 large carrots, thinly sliced 2 large potatoes, thinly sliced 1 large onion, thinly sliced 1/4 medium […]

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I was always on the lookout for new soups to make for Mama, even though I was not the soup fan she was. We both liked this autumn yumminess. Ingredients 4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed (for easier halving, cut stem end off first) 2 tablespoons unsalted butter […]